Thursday, February 28, 2013

He married his Step Sister?

Back when I was a teen aged kid, in the 1970's, before computers and the internet, I started working on my family history.   As a teenager, I was very intimidated by the librarians and archivists in some repositories.  They definitely did not like genealogists, and they did not like children.  I had to get permission to step inside several archives, including interviews.  The staff at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester often stopped to ask me what I was doing in the building, but I had a badge and my name was on the “researcher” list when I was fifteen. 

 It was difficult at times to untangle what I was reading in the vital records.  Can you imagine finding some sort of mystery and not having Twitter, Facebook or email to instantly consult with fellow genealogists?   None of my teen friends were helpful, and the genealogy class I attended was full of retired people who were new at genealogy, too.  I didn't know a single experienced genealogist, except my genealogy teacher.  There were no genealogy clubs.  I was on my own!

And so, upon studying my  5x great grandmother, I found her marriage record to be very confusing.  Working backwards from my 4x great grandparents, Andrew Munroe and Ruth Simonds, I saw that they were married on 22 March 1785 in Woburn (now Burlington), Massachusetts.   Ruth’s parents were Caleb Simonds and Susanna Converse.  Andrew’s parents were listed as Andrew Munroe and Mary Simonds.   In trying to find Mary’s marriage and parents, I ran into problems. 

It turned out that Mary Simonds was really Mary Mixer, daughter of Joseph Mixer and Mary Ball and the widow of Daniel Simonds.  She was married to Daniel Simonds in 1749, to Andrew Munroe in 1763 (and had a son, Andrew, jr.), and to Caleb Simonds (cousin to Daniel) in 1774.   Caleb Simonds was married twice, first to Susanna Converse in 1746 (and had a daughter Ruth), and then to Mary (Mixer) Munroe. 

Yes, Ruth Simonds married her step brother.  Eleven years after Caleb and Mary married, she married Andrew Munroe, Jr. on 22 March 1785. 

Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds  m. Mary Mixer m. Andrew Munroe
                                  I                                                             I
                            Ruth Simonds  m.  Andrew Munroe, Jr.
                                     Luther Simonds Munroe
                                   (my 3x great grandfather)

Not only was this eye brow raising to me at age fourteen, it was difficult to sort out on my own.  However, it slowly unraveled, and was quite a relief to find that everything worked out without any incestuous marriages. 

Then I found out that Luther Simonds Munroe had married Olive Flint in 1826, and her parents were named John Flint and Phebe Flint.   Can’t you just hear me saying “Here we go again!” 

Since this time, I've found several cases of step siblings marrying in my family tree.  Also first cousins marrying, lots of second cousins and third cousins marrying, and siblings marrying the widowed spouse of a sibling.   I think I've seen it all, over and over, which is not unusual in New England, and probably not unusual anywhere else.
Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March Genealogy and Local History Calendar

Local Club Meetings

Hudson Genealogy Club, at the Rogers Memorial Library, 194 Derry Road, Hudson, NH  every 2nd Friday of the Month, at 1:30 PM contact Gayle St. Cyr 603-886-6030 for more information.

Genealogy Roundtable, at the Derry Public Library, 64 East Broadway, Derry, NH  every first Tuesday of the Month, at 1 – 2:30 PM.  Contact: 603-432-6140 for more information.

Greater Lowell Genealogy Club meets at the Pollard Memorial Library, Lowell, MA 10AM to 1PM once a month. 

Newton, NH Genealogy Club- Gale Library, Newton, NH, 603-382-4691, 3PM on the third Wednesday of the month. 

Chelmsford Genealogy Club, at the Chelmsford, MA Public Library, first Tuesday night of the month at 7PM in the McCarthy Meeting Room, contact Judy Sylvia 978-256-5521

Rye Genealogy Club, at the Rye Public Library, first Tuesday of the month at 2PM.

March 2, Saturday, 8:30 am – 5pm Ancestry Day at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society and  $30 registration fee, $19 parking at the Prudential Center. or email education

March 2, Saturday, 3pm, Tea and Fashion at the Munroe Tavern, Meet Colonel and Mrs. Munroe for a tour of the Munroe Tavern and an exhibit of rare textiles on display this weekend only.  A delicious high tea, music and raffle of teapots will follow. Sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society.  $30 members/$35 non-members.  Reserve your spot by calling 781-862-1703

March 2, Saturday, 1pm Baked Beans and Fried Clams: How Food Defines a Region, at the Derry Public Library, 64 E. Broadway, Derry, NH  432-6140 A celebration of the regional favorites, and a discussion on the many foods distinctive to New England. FREE

March 3, Sunday, 3pm, Tea and Fashion at the Munroe Tavern, Meet Colonel and Mrs. Munroe for a tour of the Munroe Tavern and an exhibit of rare textiles on display this weekend only.  A delicious high tea, music and raffle of teapots will follow. Sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society.  $30 members/$35 non-members.  Reserve your spot by calling 781-862-1703

March 4, Monday, 1pm A Visit with Queen Victoria, at the First Baptist Church of Nashua, 121 Manchester St., Nashua, NH  603-886-7201.  Sponsored by the NH Humanities Council.  Sally Mummey performs as her royal highness, to reveal the personal details of a powerful yet humane woman. FREE

March 4, Monday, 2:15pm Vanished Veteran’s- NH’s Civil War Monuments and Memorials, at the Havenwood Heritage Heights Auditorium, 33 Christian Avenue, Concord, NH 603-229-1185.  A discussion on the earliest obelisks, to statues, artillery, murals, cast iron, stained glass and buildings from the 1860s through the 1920s in New Hampshire. FREE

March 6, New Visitor Welcome Tour, at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99 – 101 Newbury Street, Boston.  FREE to the public.  See the website

March 6, Wednesday, 6:30pm If I am Not for Myself, Who Will Be for Me?  George Washington’s Runaway Slave, at the Kimball Public Library, 5 Academy Avenue, Atkinson, NH  603-362-5234.  FREE The story of Ona Judge Staines, who ran away from Martha Washington to New Hampshire.  Presented by Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti.

March 8, 6:30pm – 8:30pm The Irish Experience at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem, Mass.  $10 Historic New England members, $15 nonmembers, Discover the daily lives of the Phillips family’s Irish domestic staff.  Registration recommended, please call 978-744-0440 for additional information.

March 9, Saturday, 11am – 12:30pm Ladies of the House Tour, at the Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street, Boston, View the Otis House through the lens of women’s history, and discover the relevant social history of the women’s lives in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Registration required through Historic New England, $7 members, $15 nonmembers, call 617-994-5920 for information.

March 9, Saturday, 10am – noon, The Irish Experience at Phillips House, at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA.  Discover the daily lives of the Irish domestic staff, their duties, living conditions, and interactions with the family members.  Visit the servant’s work and living spaces not usually open to the public.  Registration recommended through Historic New England, $10 members, $15 nonmembers 978-744-0440 to purchase tickets.

March 16, Saturday, Plimoth Plantation reopens for the season, you can find this living history museum at 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, Massachusetts

March 23, Saturday, 9:30 – 12:30 joint Irish Genealogy Conference between TIARA and NEHGS at 99 Newbury Street, Boston, MA  Presentation by Dr. Paula de Fougerolles on the history and archeology of medieval Ireland and Scotland.  Marie Daly will presnt “Tracing Irish Domestic Servants” using case studies from the Boston area.  Participants are welcome to conduct research at the library in the afternoon.  $20 registration fee, email or register at

March 28, Thursday, 2:30pm The Abolitionists of Noyes Academy, at Heritage Heights- Tad’s Place, 149 East Side Drive, Concord, NH  603-229-1266 In 1835 the first racially integrated school was opened in Canaan, NH, but outraged citizens raised a mob that dragged the academy off its foundation and ran the African American students out of town. This is the story of three extraordinary Afrian American leaders, Henry Highland Garnet, Alexander Crummell and Thomas Sipkins Sidney.  FREE

March 28, Thursday, 7 – 8pm, Ocean State Mementos: Jewelry from Rhode Island, at the Governor Lippitt House, 199 Hope Street, Providence, RI,  An illustrated lecture on the history of jewelry in Rhode Island, and new research on the Ocean State’s jewelry industry.  Co-sponsored by Preserve Rhode Island and Historic New England.  Registration required, call 617-994-5959.  Free to members of both organizations, $5 nonmembers.

March 30, Saturday, 2pm  Native American Genealogy, Amesbury, MA Public Library. 149 Main St., Amesbury, MA  Chief Paul Brunnell will present a program on the Native Americans who lived in this area.  Materials to research and migration patterns.  Registration required.  978-388-8148 or register online at

March 30, Saturday, The New England Family History Conference, sponsored by the Hingham Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at the Franklin LDS Church, 91 Jordan Road, Franklin, Massachusetts.  For more information see the website at

March 31, Sunday, 11am – 4pm, Salem Women’s History Day, at the Phillips House, 34 Chestnut Street, Salem, MA,  A special guided tour for Women’s History Month, focusing on the role of women at 34 Chestnut St. through the years.  Sponsored by Historic New England, free to members and Salem residents, $5 nonmembers.  Tours on the half hour.  Call 978-744-0440 with questions.

April 6, Saturday, 10 am – 2:30pm, New Hampshire Society of Genealogists: Spring Meeting, at the Holiday Inn, 172 North Main Street, Concord, NH.  Two lectures “Researching your Ancestors on the Internet” and “Spinsters & Widows: Gender Loyalty within Families” with a lunch buffet. $15 members, $20 non members, must register in advance by emailing Hal Inglis at or calling 1-603-0664-9080.  Seating is limited so register early.

April 13, Saturday, 1 – 4:30pm, Two Brothers: Stories from the Front Lines of World War I, at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA, Free to Historic New England and Cape Ann Museum members, $5 nonmembers.  Archaeologist and curator Timothy Kendall shares the story of his grandfather and great-uncle who were volunteer ambulance drivers in the American Field Service during World War I.  The Boston born brothers documented their experiences in photos and journals. Gloucester resident Abram Piatt Andrew founded the American Field service with Beauport’s Henry Davis Sleeper.  Following the talk at 2:30 is a viewing of Our American Boys at War in Europe, the film Sleeper used to recruit volunteers and funds for the American Field Service.  Registration recommended 978-283-0800.

April 13, Saturday, 2pm, Irish Genealogy, Amesbury, MA Public Library. 149 Main St., Amesbury, MA Tom Toohey will present Irish Genealogy 404.  Registration required .  978-388-8148 or register online at

April 17 – 21, New England Regional Genealogical Conference, at the Raddison Hotel and Conference Center, Manchester, NH  For more information see the website

April 21st, Wednesday,10am  FREE Vacation Week Genealogy For Kids Program at the National Archives,  38Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachusetts.  Participants research their family history with volunteers and staff available to help out.  Reservations are required, please call 866-406-2379 2379 or email

April 21st, Wednesday, 2pm, Behind the Scenes at the National Archives, a 45 minute tour to see original documents of our nation’s history.  Reservations suggested, please call 866-406-2379 or email

Coming Up:

August 4 – 9, 2013, The 33rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Boston Park Plaza Hotel

For genealogy events nationally and internationally, please see the website Conference Keeper

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Newest in Town!

Weathervane Wednesday is an on-going series of photographs of weather vanes in the Nutfield, New Hampshire area (formerly Derry, Londonderry and parts of Hudson, Windham and Manchester). Some of the weather vanes are historical, some are whimsical, and all are interesting. Today's weather vane was photographed in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

 Do you know the location of weather vane #84?   Scroll down to see the answer...

Today's weather vane is probably the newest weather vane in Londonderry.  It is on the new addition behind the Coach Stop restaurant at the crossroads of Nashua Road and Mammoth Road.  I photographed it back in the fall when they were still working on the roof and walls.  It was the same day I noticed the new cupola and weather vane.  This shiny new copper eagle should weather to a beautiful patina over the years.  Great job, Coach Stop!  Thanks for a new weather vane in town!

For a story about the history of this historic building and restaurant please click here:

The Coach Stop website

For a list of all the weather vanes in this series, please click here:

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Kendall of Litchfield, New Hampshire

These gravestones were photographed at the Litchfield, New Hampshire Presbyterian Church cemetery. 

Memento mori
In Memory of
Mrs. Sally Kendall
wife of Lieut.
Timothy Kendall
She departed
this LIfe May
the 20th 1776 In 
the 27th year of
her age.

In Memory of Lt.
Timo. Kendall
Who died Jan.
26, 1811 AEt 71

Lt. Timothy Kendall was born 1740 in Litchfield, New Hampshire.  He died on 26 January 1811 in Litchfield.  He was the son of Deacon Nathan Kendall of Woburn, Massachusetts. Timothy married Sally Walker, daughter of James Walker and Elizabeth Harrison, born 1749 in Bedford, New Hampshire.  He married second to Elizabeth Lund.

Timothy Kendall was the grandson of Jacob Kendall and Alice Hassell.  Jacob Kendall is my 1st cousin 10 generations removed.  Jacob's grandparents, John Kendall (1580 - 1660) and Margaret Sacherell, are my 10x great grandparents. They were early settlers of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the area now known as Kendall Square (near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology- MIT).

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fruitlands in Winter

There is a wonderful view of Mounts Wachusett and Monadnock
from the ridge in Harvard, Massachusetts where you can
find the Fruitlands Museum.

This beautiful cafe is open April to October
but closed all winter, the giftshop is open year round

The red farmhouse at the bottom of the hill
is where Louisa May Alcott lived as a child when her father
joined the transcendentalists at Fruitlands in 1843

The Native American Gallery
In 1914 a wealthy Boston Brahmin, Clara Endicott Sears, bought the site of Bronson Alcott's utopian community, Fruitlands, to start a cultural museum.  She included Native American Art, Shaker collections, and an art gallery, as well as the buildings where the transcendentalists attempted to live as an experimental community.  The museum is surrounded by 210 acres of meadow and forest full of nature trails open year round.  Only the art gallery is open in the winter, the entire museum complex is open April through October.

The visitor's center
There is an exhibit of New England primitive portraits at the art gallery until April 15th.  Click on this link to read my blog post from last week about this wonderful exhibit:

Click here to see photos of Fruitlands Museum in the summertime:

Fruitlands Museum
102 Prospect Hill Road
Harvard, Massachusetts 01451
(978) 456-3924

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Long of Charlestown, Massachusetts

Charlestown, Massachusetts seen from Boston Harbor
Robert Long was an innkeeper in England before coming to America.  He boarded the ship Defence In London on 7 July 1635 with his second wife and ten children.  He came to live in Charlestown, Massachusetts, next to Boston.  Robert Long owned the “Three Cranes Inn” also known as the “Grand Ordinary” in Charlestown at the foot of town hill.   The building stayed in the Long family for 100 years until it was burned on 17 June 1777 when Charlestown was set ablaze by the British upon their evacuation of the town.

It is thought that Robert Long named his son, Zechariah, after the Charlestown pastor, the Reverend Zechariah Symmes.  Rev. Symmes arrived in Boston in 1934 aboard the ship Griffin with his wife and seven children, along with the Rev. John Lothrop and the famous Quaker Anne Hutchinson.   He was pastor at Charlestown until his death in February 1670, when he was buried with honors at the town’s expense.
You can read more about Robert Long and his family in The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634 – 1635, Volume II, by Robert Charles Anderson, Boston: NEHGS, 2001, pages 316 – 320.  I pieced together my line with help from the vital records and Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary of New England, Volume 1.  Please see my post on my Converse lineage at this link: 

My Long genealogy:

Generation 1:  Robert Long, son of John Long and Marie Unknown, born 1590 in St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire, England, died on 6 January 1663 in Charlestown, Massachusetts;  married first on 3 October 1614 in St. Alban’s to Sarah Taylor, daughter of John Taylor and Margaret Willmot.  She died on 12 December 1631 in England.  He married second to Elizabeth Unknown about 1635.  He had ten children by his first wife born in England, and three more by his second wife, all born in Charlestown.

1.) Michael Long, b. about 1615, d. 12 January 1689 in Charlestown, m.  Joan Unknown
2.) Sarah Long, b. 13 October 1616, m. Abraham Hill
3.) Robert Long, b. about 1619, m. Elizabeth Hawkins
4.) Elizabeth Long, b. about 1621, m. James Parker
5.) Ann Long (see below)
6.) Mary Long, b. about 1627, m. Simon Kempthorne
7.) Rebecca Long, b. about 1628, m. Elias Rowe
8.) John Long, b. about 1628, m. Abigail Norton
9.) Zechariah Long, b. 1630, m. Sarah Tidd
10.) Joshua Long, b. after 1630,
11.) Hannah Long, b. 2 March 1637, m. Henry Cookery
12.) Ruth Long, b. 3 June 1639
13.) Deborah Long, b. 10 August 1642

Generation 2:  Ann  Long, born 1 June 1623 in St. Alban’s, died 10 August 1691 in Woburn, Massachusetts; married on 24 October 1643 in Woburn to James Convers as his first wife.

Generation 3: James Converse m. Hannah Carter
Generation 4: Robert Converse m. Mary Sawyer
Generation 5:  Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds
Generation 6:  Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe
Generation 7:  Luther Simonds Munroe m. Olive Flint
Generation 8:  Phebe Cross Munroe m. Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 9:  Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 10: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, February 22, 2013

Back to MIT to hear about NARA’s plans for records access

Round table discussion at MIT Media Lab
Civic Media Lunch:  Providing Innovative Access to the Content in National Archives Records

I heard about this workshop through one of my husband’s MIT alumni networks, and then I heard again from Kate Theimer of the Archives Next blog on Twitter.  She wanted to know if anyone was going to the discussion, and I decided “Why not?”  Perhaps someone from the genealogical community should be there, listening in.  I love going back to the MIT campus, and the subject was right up my alley: “Providing Innovative Access to the Content in National Archives Records”

This lunchtime talk was open to the MIT community, and I may have been one of the few people there who was not a student, research fellow, MIT archivist or media lab employee.  It was not aimed at the end user (me, the genealogist) but at the developers and designers of the computer platforms and technology that drives our online experiences.  This discussion was a behind the scenes peek (for me) at the problems, hurdles and headaches of archiving 12 billion pieces of paper and electronic records, and making some of them safe for long term storage, and some of them also accessible to the public.

At this meeting were Michael Moore from the NARA facility in Waltham, MA, and his “boss”, Bill Mayer who is the head of Executive Research Services for all of NARA.  The main part of the presentation was by Pamela Wright, who used to be NARA’s Chief Digital Access Strategist (their social media guru), but is now the Chief Innovation Officer.  This department was formed in October 2012.

To read the blow by blow description of the meeting, you can read the blog by the students who were sitting right in front of me, liveblogging the seminar.  But here is what I took away from this meeting, as a genealogist and local historian…

The first item that I found to be great news was that there are Regional Residency  Fellowships available at the 6 NARA facilities around the USA.  See the website for details.  Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to fund some solid genealogy or local history projects?  This is a $3,000 stipend to assist with travel and research expenses for the completion of a research project which results in a publishable work.  You must work fast, the deadline for proposals is March 15, 2013.  The Boston/Waltham facility is one of the fellowship locations on the list.

Next, I found out that NARA’s website “Today’s Document” and the mobile apps for this were their first foray into social media in 2009.  This was the very first app I got for my iPhone three years ago, quickly followed by Twitter, Facebook and Ancestry (in that order). Pam learned that to make it successful she needed to have it on many platforms, including Tumblr.  David Ferreiro, the US Archivist at the head of NARA then asked Pam, “Where do you go when you go on line?”, and she knew that Google and Wikipedia were at the head of her list.  She hired a “Wikiepedian in residence” for NARA.  He was a Simmons Library School Graduate.  He put hundreds of thousands of NARA images online.   Their presence online grew tremendously after this.

Check the website for the Citizen Archivist dashboard.  This was designed to leverage the willingness and participation of the public (crowdsourcing) to help get useful information about documents online.   There are several places here to assist NARA with online scanned images of documents, including “You can Tag It”, to add tags to images and records partnered with Flickr and the online NARA catalog, and also “You can Transcribe It” to help transcribe documents at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.  No log in is necessary, so there is no barrier to participation.  They also plan some challenge competitions as they venture towards more public help.

These last two places for the public to get involved reminded me of the chance we all had to help transcribe and index the 1940 census.  If you enjoyed that experience, this would be very similar.

The end of the meeting dwelt on describing the data sets that would eventually be available and open to the public, including government email, taxes, military and other electronic documents.  There are sets of old data in unstructured form from platforms 30 to 40 years old that must be manipulated to new platforms.  Format obsolescence is the key word here.  After librarians dealt with paper documents in the same way for 6,000 years, now they have 60 years of bit stream to archive and keep relevant.  Pamela Wright explained that paper has preservation and access issues, but with electronic records access equals preservation.  (Data tends to stays up to date if that data is still available to users in a relevant way.)

Halfway through the meeting I remembered that Pamela Wright was the NARA person who sent me a now famous email about my trip to the Washington DC NARA facility in March 2011.  During my trip to DC I was denied access to see a copy of my ancestor’s Revolutionary War paper in person, and I was told I could only see it on microfilm.  I had already seen it online at Fold3, and was hoping that if I saw it in person I could discern if the signature was George Washington’s, or a facsimile or stamp. However, I now know it was a real George Washington signature, since the original had been removed for safekeeping away from the public.  She read my blog and sent me a color, high quality scan that certainly proved it was truly the president’s signature in penYou can read that blog story here.   At the end of the talk I introduced myself to Pamela and we had a good time reminiscing about that incident.  Small world indeed!

This is what greeted me as I got off the
elevator at the MIT Media Lab-
legos, foozeball and strange sculptures!

Please see the MIT blog for more details.  I understand that the meeting was videoed, but it is probably for MIT use only.  I asked Pam Wright if she or any other NARA staff would be present at RootsTech 2013 in Salt Lake City, and she did not know.

For more information:

Archives Next blog by Kate Theimer

MIT Center for Civic Media

MIT Center for Civic Media event calendar, “Innovative Access to National Archives” link:

MIT Center for Civic Media blog “Bringing a Nation’s Archives Online” by Matt Stempeck, research assistant

National Archives website

2013 Regional Residency Fellowship: Request for Proposals

NARA Citizen Archivist Dashboard

My NARA blog post from 2011 with the email from Pamela Wright

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Weird Search Terms February 2013

OK, it's been more than six months since I've published one of my "weird search term" lists. These are actual searches from Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. that have hit my blog since the last time I posted a list.  These are found just casually when I happen to be perusing my blog statistics.  I often wonder what weird and wonderful things people are searching for on the internet when I'm not looking!

Google                                                My Comment

Nutfield nh map 1620                                            Sorry, didn’t exist in 1620
kennedy lake park salem new Hampshire                It’s “Canobie Lake Park”.  Even so, this got to my blog
Vanzetti in colonial Boston -                                  Really?
Nutfield NH coins gold proof                                  Who is minting money down in their cellar?
History of “salmon and pees”                                  OK, I admit that I wrote about salmon and peas, but this one makes me laugh
Photo of salem witch hanging                                  Not unless you are a time traveler
Stne neage of newhamphire                                     I’m guessing this was “New Hampshire’s Stonehenge”?
Can you will your body to a descendant to use for ancestor worship?
                                                                                1) How did this end up on my blog?
                                                                                2)  Ewwwww!
                                                                                3) You just can’t make this stuff up!
Gum copal                                                               Did this one stump you? Two years ago I was googling “gum copal”
                                                                                too, after it came up on a census image.  So I wrote a blog post about
                                                                                my search for gum copal.  I just learned that the Peabody Essex 
                                                                                Museum’s Phillip’s Library googled it, too, and hit my blog. 
          Their comment:
“Thanks for this well-documented post. At the Phillips Library (at the Peabody Essex Museum) in Salem, MA, we just received a gift of two account books of Jonathan Whipple's. They describe in great detail his trade with various vendors in Zanzibar and other places in Africa for gum copal. Your information will be very helpful in cataloging these items.”  See this post at

Everyone wants a Mayflower Ancestor
Southwicks on Mayflower passenger list –          No, they weren’t!
Cassandra Southwick Mayflower                            No
Peter Folger Mayflower                                           No
John Winthrop Mayflower                                       Definitely No
Cabot ancestor on Mayflower 2nd trip                    Absolutely No.  The Mayflower made only one trip.
                                                                               (However, there were other ships with the same name)

Images searched online that actually landed on my blog website ….
1843 family pics -                                                  [does Google actually understand “pics”?]
Funny lobsters                                                        Strange looking, but not very good at telling jokes

Questions on Google?
“what happens to weathervane when horse race is over” – Can anyone answer this one for me?
“when did Uncle Ted fall through the ice?”              – When he was drunk?
“was my great great grandfather in the civil war?”    - Am I clairvoyant?
“why is Mack’s Apples closed?”                                - Ran out of apples?

 I’m beginning to feel like Jay Leno on one of his “Jaywalking” episodes.  Or a soothsayer.  Some of these questions are … well… is “bizarre” the correct word?
Click on these links to read some past blog posts on weird search terms:

18 May 2012  

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weathervane Wednesday ~ Another Antique Car

This is part of an on-going series of photographs of weather vanes in the Nutfield, New Hampshire area (formerly Derry, Londonderry and parts of Hudson, Windham and Manchester). Some of the weather vanes are historical, some are whimsical, and all are interesting. Today's weather vane was photographed in Windham, New Hampshire.
Do you know the location of weather vane #83?  Scroll down to see the answer....

Today's weather vane was seen on Lowell Road, Windham, New Hampshire, on top of a garage at a private residence.  It is a large three dimensional antique automobile, which is very unique since I see a lot of two dimensional, flat weather vanes.  Automobiles are very rare for weather vanes around here, even though most of the weather vanes seem to be on top of garages and carports. Eagles, geese and horses still seem to be the most popular weather vanes I've photographed in the past year and a half.

Click here to see the entire collection of Weathervane Wednesday posts! 

Copyright 2012, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ James Franklin McQuesten

 This gravestone was photographed at the Litchfield, New Hampshire Presbyterian Church cemetery.


James F. McQuesten
Native of Litchfield, NH
and Capt. in the US Army,
born 1835
Graduated West Point 1861
Fell at the Battle of Winchester,
 Sept. 19, 1864

You can see in the photograph of the back of the church, when an addition was built onto the building, the sidewalk to the rear door had to snake around this obelisk to Captain James Frankin McQuesten.    He was the son of Henry McQuesten (1804 - 1861) and Elizabeth Wingate Chase (1801 - 1886).  James was married to Marcia McQuesten, the daughter of Edward McQuesten and Harriet Colby.

James entered the US Military Academy at West Point in 1855.  He was a member of the class of 1861.  This year there were two classes, one in May and one in June because Lincoln needed officers for the Civil War.  This class year included General George Armstrong Custer and many civil war officers for the North and for the South.  You can read about this remarkable group of young men in the book The Class of 1861: Custer, Ames and Their Classmates after West Point, by Ralph Kirshner,  Southern Illinois University Press, 1999

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fruitlands exhibit of " New England Portraits"

Three unidentified children
The girl on the right has hair parted in the middle, and a flower.
The boy on the left has short skirts, side parted hair, and a riding crop.
The baby is unknown.

The Fruitlands Museum has over 200 early 19th century primitive portraits in storage.  This exhibit has about 80 of the portraits on exhibit for the first time.  The founder of the Fruitlands Museum, Clara Endicott Sears (1863 - 1960), would purchase them from all over New England for her collection.  Most of them were done by itinerant painters, and are unlabeled, unidentified, and the artist is unknown.  Others have fascinating stories and labels.  It is fun to wander through this exhibit and wonder if some of the faces might be your own ancestors!

The art gallery at Fruitlands Museum

Itinerant painters would wander New England and charge five or ten dollars for a portrait.  They were mostly uneducated, so the portraits are simple, lacking perspective or detail.  The subjects are not wealthy or famous, but ordinary people.  Sometimes the artist would paint an object in the hands of the subject or in the background to depict their profession, such as a ship for a sea captain, or sheet music for a musician.  You can tell if children are boys or girls by the objects they hold, such as flowers for girls, and sports equipment or balls for boys.

The museum label read "Portrait of a Lady of Boston"
but the label on the frame reads "Lady with a Great Cap"! 

This is the only family portrait in the collection

The museum label reads "Lady of Essex County"
and the frame label reads "Portrait of an Old Lady Knitting,
Essex County, Mass."
*Welcome knitters from
I understand this painting has been under discussion.
Please leave a comment below about the
way this woman is holding her knitting needles!*
-click on the painting to enlarge-
This portrait display will continue through March, during the winter hours of the Fruitlands Museum.  The museum will open for the summer on April 15th.  Admission to the exhibit is $5, and includes the use of the 210 acres of museum meadow and woodlands for walking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

These little boys are old enough to have been "breeched".
Yes, all three are little boys
"Sons of Edwin A. and Sarah R. Hill, 1853"
attributed to Sturtevant Hamblin circa 1854.
The child in the high chair is Edwin Lawton Hill,
he is holding fruit, not flowers, despite the pink dress!

Click here to see more photos of the Fruitlands Museum in winter:

Fruitlands Museum website

Fruitlands Museum
102 Prospect Hill Road
Harvard, Massachusetts 01451
(978) 456-3924 x235

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Jackie Kastrinelis, only 24 years old

Obituary, Eagle Tribune, Lawrence, Mass.
February 12, 2013
Jaquelyn Ann Kastrinelis, 24

Groveland - Jaquelyn Ann Kastrinelis, 24, died unexpectedly on Sunday, February 3, 2013 aboard the Regent Seven Seas cruise ship “Voyager.” She was the beloved daughter of Michael A. and Kathleen (Stien) Kastrinelis of Groveland.

Born in Framingham on August 12, 1988, Jackie was a graduate of Pentucket Regional High School class of 2006 and then attended the Hartt School of Music as a musical theater major. Following graduation from the Hartt School in 2010, Jackie moved to New York City to pursue her dreams.

Shortly after arriving in New York City and beginning to audition, she caught the eye of Jean Ann Ryan Productions, an entertainment company specializing in providing high-end luxury cruise lines with performers. Jackie ended up working for the next two years on different cruises all over the world. This third cruise, on the Regent Seven Seas cruise ship “Voyager,” was a ten month contract, after which she was planning to return to New York City to audition for other roles, including auditioning for “The Voice.” The out-pouring of messages from around the globe are a true testament to the extent of how much Jackie touched people with her love, talent and captivating smile. On Wednesday, February 6th, all cast and crew of Regent came together on every ship in the fleet to join hands as one family and give a memorial to Jackie. Following the ceremony on Jackie’s last ship, cast members went to the bow of the ship to toss yellow roses into the ocean in memory of Jackie. As the last rose was thrown, a pod of whales surfaced.

Jackie had a true love of animals, exploring new places and meeting new people. She was caring, giving and always looked for that person who needed help or seemed a little down. She also loved performing and was happy to be living her dream as a singer and actress. When not working, Jackie loved visiting with her family back in Groveland as well as visiting her friends and fellow performers in New York City, Hartford and Boston. Summer visits to the family house on Cape Cod were a special and treasured part of her life.

In addition to her parents, Mike and Kathy, she is survived by her two brothers, Michael L. and Andrew A. Kastrinelis; paternal grandparents, Peter L. and Barbara A. Kastrinelis of Boxford; maternal grandmother, Virginia R. Stien of Mashpee and the late Michael G. Stien; several aunts and uncles, Peter and Sheila Kastrinelis of Boxborough, Timothy and Kelly Kastrinelis of Boxford, Michael Stien of New York City, Chris Stien of Martha’s Vineyard, Matthew Stien of Atlanta, GA and William and Lisa VanGilst of Harwinton, CT; many cousins, dear friends and Jackie’s boyfriend, David Marmanillo.

ARRANGEMENTS: Her funeral service will be held on Saturday, February 16th in the Groveland Congregational Church, 4 King Street, Groveland at 10 a.m. The family will be receiving family and friends at the Groveland Congregational Church on Friday from 4 - 8 pm. Relatives and friends are cordially invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in her memory to the Jaquelyn Kastrinelis Fund for the Performing Arts, c/o The Pentucket Arts Foundation, PO Box 254, West Newbury, MA 01985. Funds in this account will be used to support the artistic endeavors that were most meaningful to Jackie during her time at Pentucket. Interment will be privately held in the Riverview Cemetery, Groveland. Arrangements are under the direction of the Linnehan-Grondin Funeral Home, 129 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill. For more information and to send online condolences, please visit

Jackie was the niece of my sister's ex-husband.  I especially remember her as a little flower girl, along with my own daughter, at my sister's wedding.  She will be greatly missed, gone much too soon. 

A link to her obituary at the funeral home website:

Surname Saturday ~ Parker


Unfortunately there are several Parker families in Middlesex County, and it is easy to confuse the descendants.  I’m related to many of the families, and many of the branches of descendants of the Parker brothers who lived in Billerica, Chelmsford and Groton.  I even have a first cousin who married one of these Parker descendants!  The only Parker I am descended from is Sarah Parker, the wife of Edward Convers.

There is an article in the NEHGS Register, Volume 153, January 1999, pages 81 - , “The English Origin and Ancestry of the Parker Brothers of Massachusetts and their Probable Aunt, Sarah Parker, Wife of Edward Converse”, by Doug Richardson that outlines much of the genealogy of the extended Parker family.   This is the best literature for untangling the Parker brothers.   However, please remember that there were other Parkers in Middlesex County, including Thomas Parker of Reading.   The NEHGS online library card catalog lists over 120 books and manuscripts for Parkers.

This is the first time I will do a Surname Saturday post showing several generations of the English origins of an immigrant ancestor.  Since professional genealogists have done all the work, I feel safe that this is the lineage of Sarah Parker.

Parker Genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Parker, husbandman, born about 1525 in England, buried on 29 May 1581 in Great Burstead, Essex, England; married to Margaret Unknown before 1533 in England.  In his will he left two houses, one to his son, and one to his two daughters Sarah and Mary.  He also bequeathed a sheep to each of his two living grandchildren by his daughter Anne.

Three children:
1. Anne, born about 1553, married Thomas Dore on 28 July 1573 in Great Burstead
2. John Parker (see below)
3. Sarah Parker
4. Mary Parker

Generation 2: John Parker, born about 1560, buried 5 August 1613 in Great Burstead; married to first to Unknown and had four children; married second to Mary Ashels or Wheeler on 9 October 1606 in Great Burstead.    John is named in his mother, Margaret’s, will proved 9 September 1594. 
Four children by Unknown:
1. John, born about 1587, died after 1630, married Ann Unknown, six children. Came to Massachusetts
 2. Alice, born about 1590, married George Payne on 12 July 1609 in Great Burstead
 3. James, born about 1594, married Joan Coker on 14 August 1616 in Great Burstead. Came to Massachusetts
 4. Sarah, born about 1596 in England (see below)

One child by Mary:
1. Joseph Parker, baptized on 9 August 1607

Generation 3: Sarah Parker, born about 1596 in England, buried 13 June 1625 in South Weald, Essex, England; married on 29 June 1624 in Great Burstead to Edward Converse, born 20 January 1590 in Navestock, Essex, England, died 10 August 1663 in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  Six children.

Generation 4: Sergeant James Converse m. Anna Long
Generation 5:  James Converse m. Hannah Carter
Generation 6: Robert Converse m. Mary Sawyer
Generation 7: Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds
Generation 8:  Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe
Generation 9:  Luther Simonds Munroe m.  Olive Flint
Generation 10: Phebe Cross Munroe m.  Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 11: Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 12: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts

Click here to see the Surname Saturday post on Edward Converse, Sarah Parker's husband: 

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

Friday, February 15, 2013

Photo Friday ~ York's Wild Kingdom

Although this photo doesn't look too wild, it was photographed in York, Maine at the zoo known as York's Wild Kingdom.  Perhaps it had a different name in the 1960's. My Mom thinks this was about 1963.  Back then it was a petting zoo, and very tame.  Now there are lots of wild animals in enclosures, and lots of wild amusement park rides for the older kids and adults.

I love the photos of my Dad in his baggy Nantucket red bermuda shorts.  He always had a pair of these, every summer, right up until he passed away in August of 2002.  These are digitized versions of slides, and they are just starting to deteriorate.  You can tell the photos that my Dad took, they are sharp and clear.  The ones Mom took... well....

York Wild Kingdom - 

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo